Gareth Bale exclusive: On his Tottenham return and Real Madrid exit

"It was time for a change," Bale says of his Real Madrid departure; Watch Tottenham vs Newcastle on Super Sunday from 1pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 2pm

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Gareth Bale discussed his return to Tottenham and what he learnt from his time in Madrid with Geoff Shreeves

Gareth Bale has told Sky Sports he has returned to a club he "loves with all my heart" after re-joining Tottenham from Real Madrid. 

In the most eye-catching transfer of the window so far, Bale signed for Tottenham - who face Newcastle in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday afternoon - on a season-long loan earlier this month seven years after exiting for a then world-record transfer fee.

"I am happy to be back and love this club with all my heart. I've had great memories here and l feel very happy and confident. My energy levels have gone up," Bale told Sky Sports' Geoff Shreeves.

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Reflecting on his exit from Real, with whom he won four Champions League titles, Bale added: "It was time for a change. I wanted to change for a little while but it hadn't materialised. This club means so much to me, it gave me my opportunities, and I felt it was a good time to come back. I feel the club is still going in a great direction and I wanted to be part of that.

"I just want to enjoy my football. In Madrid it was a bit flat for a while, which l think everyone could see. When you are not happy, it's difficult to play at your highest level."

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But where will Bale fit in? Part of the fascination of Bale's return is discovering where Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho intends to position him. The Welshman's return, along with the signing of Sergio Reguilon, has led to theories that Mourinho plans to redeploy Tottenham in a new 3-4-3 formation.

For his part, Bale says he is happy to play "anywhere across the front. I'm comfortable on the right where l have played most of my career, behind the striker where l have played a lot, and I've played on the left a lot."

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What is for certain is that the Bale of 2020/21 is likely to be markedly different from the all-running, buccaneering forward without peer in the Premier League of 2012/13.

"I'm not the 20-year-old who sprints 90 yards down the touchline every two seconds!" he conceded. "As you get older you realise you have to manage yourself a little bit more and pick the right moments. You learn the game more. When you are younger, you want to impress and go at 100 per cent all the time.

"But when you have the experience you can manage yourself, manage the game and manage the situations you find yourself in."

Bale is not expected to feature against Newcastle due to an injury suffered earlier this month on international duty and is saddened by the near-certainty that his second Tottenham debut is likely to take place behind closed doors.

"Obviously it's disappointing that the fans aren't going to be there at the stadium for my first game back because I feel like the reception would have been incredible."

And perhaps also in stark contrast to the reception and recognition he received during his final years at Madrid. For while the Bale-Tottenham love affair is being rekindled, it is fair to say that, despite the multitude of success he enjoyed in the Spanish capital, Bale never quite found his way into the hearts of the Real supporters.

"I am very quiet, I try to keep myself as normal as l can and away from the cameras and media," the 31-year-old reflected. "Maybe that is that what they didn't like over there."

Watch Tottenham vs Newcastle on Super Sunday from 1pm on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 2pm

And what did Bale make of Micah Richards' verdict?

Pitch to Post: The inside story on Bale's transfer

In the new Pitch to Post podcast, the panel reveal the inside story on Gareth Bale's return to Tottenham and discuss the size of Manchester United's problems.

Sky Sports reporter Paul Gilmour spent 16 hours at the Tottenham Hotspur training ground on the day Bale was finally announced as a Spurs player after seven years in the Spanish capital.

"It was a bit of a long day," he told the Pitch to Post Podcast. "I headed out in my polo thinking it would be done and dusted long before it got cold, and I was still there at 10.30pm at night! I'd been on site since around about 7:30am for the first live to Sky Sports News.

"Even after the last update at 10.30pm, I still had to do a recorded piece to go out later that evening so it was a long day, but it's totally worth it on a day like that. It felt like Deadline Day and those days don't come around too often."

Read our full feature here and listen to the podcast above.

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